Why should defense attorneys use consultants instead of simply implementing the steps on their own?
The purpose of the method is to eliminate ego and confirmation bias. While the method is designed to accomplish those goals, it works best when implemented by unbiased and disinterested attorneys. The problem is that when trial lawyers focus on a case with the intensity required to be an effective courtroom advocate, they can easily lose sight of the bigger picture, instead fixating on their own thoughts and ideas. They “lose the forest in the trees.” And that can prevent trial attorneys from considering other ideas and options, even when obvious to outsiders. The Method, when employed by our team at Criminal Defense Consultants, eliminates this problem. If nothing else, “another set of eyes” can only help.
Is there an optimal case for The Method?
There is no single optimal case for The Method. It is helpful in all cases. But typically, the more complex the case, the more insight there is to be gained. The problem is that complexity is not always obvious. Some cases seem simple on their face, but underneath the basic facts, there are layers and layers of hidden complexities. This often leaves attorneys with inconsistent strategy options. The Method is designed not only to expose these layers, it will identify the best strategy options.
Does The Method guarantee a not guilty verdict?
No. The reality is that there is no guaranteed win in a criminal case (or any jury case). Criminal defendants often face a seemingly impossible choice. They can accept a less-than-optimal plea bargain or risk everything at trial. Simply put, there is no crystal ball to predict the outcome of a trial. The best we can do is make sure we have utilized all the resources available to maximize our opportunity to defend the case at trial. Anything less is unacceptable. That is exactly why we founded Criminal Defense Consultants—to optimize the defense. The Method is designed to give the defendant every advantage possible to narrow the margin of risk.
I’m not sure I want to go to trial. How can The Method help me?
The Method will expose strengths and weaknesses alike. Often cases that look favorable on the surface have cracks in the foundation. It’s not OK to ignore these cracks. If a defendant is facing the choice of plea bargain or trial, it is imperative to know everything, particularly the weaknesses. The Method will expose these problems, and thus help determine whether a plea bargain ought to be considered. Even if a defendant does not want a trial under any circumstance, the lessons learned during The Method will strengthen plea bargaining positions by providing knowledge that can be used to bolster bargaining positions. After all, criminal cases are chaotic, and knowledge is the best antidote for that.
Can I just choose to do the “focus group” step?
Yes. The complete process is optimal, but there are always constraints based on time and budget. We often are hired only for the Focus Group. Though this still requires preparation and follow-up, we can streamline the process to fit the needs of the case and client. Our team will work with each attorney to develop the best plan based on individual dynamics.
Can your team represent me?
The goal of Criminal Defense Consultants is to work with lead defense counsel as “team advocates.” We do not want to take the case from the defense team. We want to join the team and make the defense better. As independent consultants, we are unburdened by the natural and necessary distractions and biases of lead counsel. The idea is to provide insight to the team, expose the biases, and identify the winning courtroom strategies.
That said, Mark Satawa and Steve Palmer have worked together on numerous cases, and they are available as lead attorneys or co-counsel anywhere in the country. They can appear pro hoc vice in most jurisdictions with the assistance of local counsel.
Is The Method only for young, new, or inexperienced attorneys?
No. The premise of the method is to eliminate inherent biases and predispositions. These things affect both new and experienced attorneys alike. With newer or less experienced attorneys, The Method can provide a foundational roadmap for trial preparation. It will naturally highlight the prep work to be done and identify issues and facts less experienced attorneys may not recognize.
The Method truly shines with seasoned, experienced criminal trial attorneys. They already bring experience, knowledge, and courtroom skills to the table. Criminal Defense Consultants will enhance and optimize these qualities, resulting in the best possible criminal trial defense.
And the more experience we gain as criminal trial attorneys, the more we tend to rely on our instinct and past strategies. They become part of our being. But therein lies the danger. The more experience, the more deceptive and inherent “tunnel vision” and “confirmation bias.” We often feel like we’ve done it before, and we know what to do. Mirroring Aristotle’s scientific method, Criminal Defense Consultants will break through these inherent biases, maximizing the pure experience, talent, and skills of the experienced attorney.
Even the most experienced and brilliant scientists rely (or should rely) on the scientific method to expose inherent confirmation biases. It should be no different for the most brilliant and experienced criminal defense trial attorneys.
Will Criminal Defense Consultants work for indigent CJA, public defender, or court appointed cases?
Absolutely. Most of us in the criminal defense profession have been appointed in federal and state courts to represent indigent defendants. In that capacity, we routinely request the court to release funds for expert assistance, investigations, and the like.
We believe strongly in the value of The Method. The Focus Group step, if not the whole process, should not be limited to private, well-funded cases. Instead, we encourage those engaged in indigent defense cases to file Ex Parte Motions with the court requesting funds to hire Criminal Defense Consultants.
The government has virtually unlimited access to resources to assist in their trial preparation. To even the playing field, the defense should also have the same opportunities. We are happy to provide sample Motions upon request. And we are happy to provide whatever information about our services that a court may require.
In other words, do not discount the value of the Focus Group and other services simply based on client indigency. There may be funds available to assist. If nothing else, it cannot hurt to make the request. If denied, there may be an appellate issue.
If we as defense counsel ever want to level the playing field in the courtroom, we must press to the courts for funding to ensure that indigents have the same advantage as everyone else. Due Process and Equal Protection guarantee at least that.